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The Home Depot

3 Causes of Flickering Bulbs

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Electrical > 3 Causes of Flickering Bulbs
3 Causes of Flickering Bulbs

You may think that your eyes are tired or they’re playing tricks on you, but if you notice light bulbs or lamps flickering while lit, there may be an underlying cause that you should investigate. It could be a simple fix or the problem could be a more serious issue.


You’ll learn the simple and not-so-simple issues that could be causing your flickering lights. Once you know three causes of flickering bulbs, you’ll be able to investigate the light to determine whether it’s something you can fix yourself or something an expert should check.

  1. 1.Loose Bulb

    If the electrician suspects exterior issues outside your home, call the electric company to examine your electric cables outside the house.

    The simplest cause of a flickering light bulb could be a loose bulb in the socket of the light fixture. Turn the light fixture off and gently grasp the light bulb to tighten it slightly. It’s not necessary to tighten it strenuously – simply making sure the light bulb sits snugly in the socket should suffice. Turn the light fixture back on to see if it stops flickering. If you still notice flickering, try replacing the defective bulb. If the light bulb continues to flicker, the issue lies elsewhere.

  2. 2.Faulty Switch or Connection

    Eventually, it’s possible that the switch of the fixture will wear out. You can determine if the switch is causing the flickering by jiggling it gently to see if this induces a flicker. It’s also possible that screw terminals on the light switch have a bad connection. Check the plug where it connects with the outlet, making sure it’s seated snugly within it.


    If you determine that the switch is faulty, replace it to resolve the flickering. If you determine that the issue lies with screw terminals, make them tighter. If the plug is loose in the outlet, remove it and squeeze the prongs together gently with your fingers to make the plug sit more snugly in the outlet.

  3. 3.Voltage Fluctuation

    When you turn on an appliance with high wattage, you may notice light bulbs flicker if the light fixtures are on the same branch circuit as the main appliance. Anything more than intermittent flickering may be a symptom of more serious electrical issues, however. In addition to flickering, you may also notice that light bulbs appear either too bright or not bright enough. Light bulbs could also burn out too quickly. Other symptoms include issues with your refrigerator or freezer because of voltage problems.


    Due to the potential serious nature of this issue, you should hire an electrician as quickly as possible to come to your home and inspect your electrical system. A private electrician can repair issues in your home. If the electrician suspects exterior issues outside your home, call the electric company to examine your electric cables outside the house.


    While some issues could be as simple as screwing in a light bulb, other potential problems may require the service of a professional. Once you know how to diagnose potential issues, you’ll be able to proceed with confidence. Don’t forget to read up on many different electrical issues on our Electrical Home Guides, too.

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